I have a friend who was afraid of the dark when she was a child. To protect herself from closet monsters, she would burrow under the covers until nothing was exposed but one watchful eye. Even though she felt “safe” in her cave, she was also sweaty and uncomfortable, which made it hard to sleep. One summer night, in a sudden fit of bravery, she threw off the covers and said, “Whatever’s going to get me, just come and get me!”

Getting to know your Self takes some Courage, too! Sometimes, we have parts that exist to protect us (our protectors), but might be harming us or our relationships in the long run. Our people-pleasing part, for example, is often trying to protect the young, vulnerable part of ourselves that we refer to in IFS as an “exile.”

This week, let’s get Curious towards our people-pleasing part and practice being assertive, so we can show up with Self energy in our relationships. (If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter, you may remember Bend-Over-Backwards Bob!)

A good way to understand your people-pleasing part is to start by asking it some questions:

  • What am I afraid could happen if I don’t do what I normally do?
  • Am I letting people know what I really want and need in this situation?
  • What is my opinion on this right now?

Your people-pleasing part goes out of its way to make everyone else happy. This part means well, of course, but it never quite gets around to making you happy. When it’s extreme, this part can lead you to passive-aggressive behavior, where you’re consciously eager to please.

Subconsciously, however, you may feel resentful or irritated. Resentment shows up as forgetfulness or distance in your relationships.

When you get Curious, you can discover the beliefs that drive your external behaviors. Remember, there are no “bad” parts. We get to know ourselves better when we get to know our parts in a deeper, more connected way. By getting to know your people-pleasing part a little better, you can put your Self back into the happiness equation.

Image Credit

Schoolgirl with books on head” by Flickr user CollegeDegrees360 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.